Hendra

The Hendra virus is a deadly disease found only in Australia. The virus is is transmitted from flying fox/ fruit bat to horse, horse to horse, and horse to people. It was first detected in 1994, in a small town outside of Brisbane called “Hendra”.

Hendra virus occurs naturally in the flying fox population across most of Australia, with the potential for the virus to appear wherever flying fox colonies live.

How is the Hendra virus transmitted?
Transmission of Hendra is thought to be from contaminated feed or water, from flying fox/ fruit bat urine, faeces or body fluids. It is important to remember that Hendra can then be spread from horse to horse and horse to human through the close contact of body fluids from an infected horse.

Is the Hendra Vaccine safe?
The vaccine has been used regularly since 2012 when it became available. Since 2012, over 440,000 dose of Hendra vaccine have been administered to horses all over Australia. The reported adverse reaction rate is approximately 0.28%, which works out to be one horse in every 350 doses administered.
The majority of these reports have been injection sight swelling, lethargy, muscle soreness around the injection site and reduced appetite. These type of reactions are commonly associated with many vaccines, including human vaccines.
It is important to remember that the vaccine contains no live virus, consequently there is a zero risk of Hendra infection following the vaccination.

How often does the vaccine need to be given?

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What is the cost of the vaccine?
To vaccinate your horse with a Hendra virus vaccine would be $99 per vaccination. This price is inclusive of a health check and the Hendra vaccine. If your horse doesn’t have a microchip, that will be an additional $30.
If you would like to book your horse in, please phone the clinic on 03. 5781 0163.

Is the Hendra vaccine safe for my pregnant mare?
In January 2016, the APVMA, approved the administration of the Hendra vaccine to pregnant mares. It is not recommended that mares are vaccinated in their first 6 weeks after conception or during their final 2 weeks before foaling.

Reside in a low risk area, do I still vaccinate?
Wherever there are flying foxes/ fruit bats there is a potential for Hendra virus infection. It only takes one infected flying fox/ fruit bat to transmit the disease. The vaccine is the most effective way to reduce the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses. By vaccinating horses, it is also protecting ourselves, our families and other who come into contact with horses. A study that was performed recently, found the samples collected from from the flying fox/ fruit bats roosting areas that have not had Hendra outbreaks, tested positive to the Hendra virus. This confirms that the risk stretches beyond where equine Hendra cases have been already confirmed.

It is important to remember that if your mare is heading to the Hunter Valley in the 2019/20 breeding season to be covered by a stallion you will be required to have your mare currently vaccinated for Hendra. IF you are wondering what studs have this policy please see this article.

Zoe Meyer